Court and Teams

Introduction Court and Teams Referees Play Offense
Defense Amateur Competition Professional Competition Olympic Basketball History
II. Court and Teams
While the dimensions of individual basketball courts vary, a playing area 84 ft (25.6m) long and 50 ft (15.2 m) wide—predominantly used in recreational, high school, and intercollegiate competition—is considered ideal for most players. Professional basketball courts are slightly larger, 94 ft (28.7 m) long and 50 ft wide. In addition to size, courts can vary in other ways, such as in the radius of the circle situated at the center of the court and in the distance of the 3-point line (from beyond which a score counts for 3 points) from the basket. For example, the 3-point line in high school and college games is 19 ft 9 in (6 m) from the basket, while in international play it is 21 ft 6 in (6.6 m), and in the National Basketball Association (NBA) it extends as far as 23 ft 9 in (7.2 m). The backboards were originally used to prevent spectators from interfering with play. They are generally 4 by 6 ft (1.2 by 1.8 m) and are connected to cast-iron rims, or baskets, that are 18 in (45.7 cm) in diameter. Each basket has a white, nylon-mesh net 15 to 18 in (38.1 to 45.7 cm) in length connected to iron loops on the rim. In the early days of its development, basketball was played with a soccer ball. Today, the standard basketball is generally orange or brown in color, with an outer cover of leather or nylon and a pebbled (indented) surface to help players grip and control the ball. In men’s play, a basketball is 29.5 to 30 in (74.9 to 76.2 cm) in circumference and 20 to 22 oz (567 to 624 g) in weight. In women’s play the basketball can be slightly smaller and lighter, 28.5 to 29 in (72.4 to 73.7 cm) in circumference and 18 to 20 oz (510 to 567 g) in weight. The standard basketball uniform consists of sneakers, socks, a tank-top shirt, and shorts. Uniforms are often elaborately designed and manufactured from synthetic fabrics such as nylon, rayon, and polyester. Each player’s uniform has a number, for identification, that is usually displayed on both sides of the shirt. Sometimes the player’s name is displayed on the back of the shirt as well. A basketball team is organized, guided, and instructed by a coach. The team consists of five players—two guards, two forwards, and one center—all of whom play offense and defense. The guards—the point guard (known in basketball terminology as the 1 guard) and the shooting guard (2 guard)—comprise what is called the backcourt. The point guard is generally the leader of the team on the court, acting as an extension of the coach. The point guard must have exceptional ball-handling and passing skills, as well as good vision (ability to see clearly what is happening in all parts of the court). The shooting guard is generally a good ball handler with excellent shooting and scoring talents. The small forward, the power forward, and the center compose what is called the frontcourt. The small forward (3 player) is usually a strong scorer from both near the basket and at a distance. This player must have good fundamental skills, including rebounding, ball handling, and passing. The power forward (4 player), who must be big and strong, primarily concentrates on defense and rebounding. The center (5 player) is usually the tallest player on the team, serving as the cornerstone of most play. Good centers score points on offense and block shots on defense. Although there are specific positions, players can play anywhere on the court, according to the team’s strategy.